2 Foothill cities, 2 wine and jazz benefits, this Saturday only

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And there’s no reason to miss either free-flowing, beat-filled soiree.
Organizers of the Pasadena Wine Festival will offer free admission to anyone who shows a ticket for the nearby Sierra Madre Wine and Jazz Walk benefiting City of Hope.
“As far as we’re concerned, the big wine event (this weekend) is in Sierra Madre, because it goes to a great cause,” said Russ Meek, sommelier and managing partner of redwhite+bluezz, which, along with Pasadena Entertainment, produces the Pasadena Wine Festival. “Anyone who goes to that (one) gets into ours for free.”
Meek said he hopes the offer will encourage festival-goers to “cruise around” to both events benefiting deserving causes.

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10 reasons to be excited about the L.A. County Fair at Pomona Fairplex

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1. FRIED EVERYTHING
It’s definitely best to tackle these bad boys with a group of adventurous eaters, that way the burden of consumption doesn’t rest solely on your shoulders. On my last trip to the Fair, I tried the fried White Castles, avocados and Pop Tarts. (The last was the clear winner among our group of novice taste-testers.) The Chicken Charlie booth is most iconic on the Fair grounds for concocting fried wonders. This year, he’ll be showcasing a new masterpiece: a deep-fried Klondike bar.

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Keeping cool: Pasadena Jazz Festival swings into the Arboretum

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Bring chairs, blankets and fellow music enthusiasts to the hottest coolest jazz extravaganza in the San Gabriel Valley.
This weekend, the 14th redwhite+bluezz Pasadena Jazz Festival will set up shop for a two-day outdoor concert at the scenic Arboretum.
Over the years, the festival has boasted more than 50 performances and 275,000 festival-goers, and this year seems no different.
Expect jazz with a twist — reinventing the tradition with a little bit of funk, blues, rock and more.
Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 28-29, 10 a.m.-10 p.m., Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden, 301 N. Baldwin Ave., Arcadia. (626) 304-0333, coolpasadena.com

(File photo)

Photos: Rose Magazine kick-off party with the Pasadena POPS

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Rose Magazine partnered with the Pasadena POPS and the Star-News to celebrate the kick-off of our summer dining and entertainment issue on Friday, June 18.
The party was held on the lawn adjacent to the Rose Bowl, which is the new concert venue for the POPS.
Guests enjoyed food and drink from Pasadena eateries like Porta Via and Polkatots Cupcakes.
Rose Magazine’s Woman of the Year, Nadine Washington, helped co-host the celebration and was honored with an official pin recognizing the commendation.
The festivities concluded with a working-rehearsal performance by the POPS and guest artists Cirque de la Symphonie, as they prepared to open their summer concert season the following night.
More photos after the jump:

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Weekend guide: All the Doo Dah day; South Pasadena turns up the volume; and the Homestead Museum takes you back in time

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Saturday, May 1
  • Doo Dah Parade
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It’s that time again; Pull your crazy hat out of the closet for the 34th occasional Pasadena Doo Dah Parade. It’s the best free fun you could imagine, and by fun we mean hanging with the zaniest of the Pasadena underground as they shed their inhibitions (Ed. note: Did they have any?) kinda like your crazy aunt Margie did that one time after imbibing too much sherry on Thanksgiving. On Doo Dah day, they’re not-so-underground anymore, invading the normally-staid Pasadena streets in the form of more than 1,000 marchers, each of them wearing their wacky, wacky hearts on their sleeves. Take in your perennial favorites like the Men of Leisure and the BBQ & Hibachi Marching Grill Team along with the regal new Queen Erica Valentine, the Electric Squirrels, Martinis in the Morning and the Howdy Krishna. This year, the parade moves eastward for the first time in its colorful history.
Saturday, 11 a.m., kick-off at Colorado Boulevard between Sierra Madre and San Gabriel boulevards, free, (626) 590-1134, pasadenadoodahparade.info, live-streaming at doodahlive.com

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Weekend guide: Earth Day at Descanso and a show-stopping Showcase House


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>>GO 
SATURDAY, April 17
  • Earth Day at Descanso
Spring is in full bloom at Descanso, from the lilacs to the roses, so there’s no better place to celebrate Earth Day. From 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m., a butterfly appreciation corner will spotlight one of nature’s most colorful creatures, including demonstrations and hands-on activities for the whole family. “Green” displays on the main lawn will range from compost tea making to organic gardening and more. Live, family-friendly entertainment scheduled throughout the day, and Patina Catering offers eco-friendly barbecue with local, organic foods from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Bring a blanket and settle down for a picnic among the trees.
9 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday, Earth Day events are free with admission. Descanso Gardens, 1418 Descanso Dr., La Caada Flintridge. descansogardens.org

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Photos: New $66 million arts complex at East Los Angeles College nearing completion


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>>LIVE 
At a sneak preview yesterday, officials at East Los Angeles College unveiled the very-nearly-complete, $66 million Performing and Fine Arts Center in Monterey Park. [Full story, Star-News]
The new center, slated to open in July, includes three multi-level buildings to house the Vincent Price Art Gallery, recital hall and drama theater. (The college’s current Vincent Price galleryendowed by the actor and art collector, is the first institutional museum to serve East Los Angeles, and it contains more than 2,000 pieces of art.)


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Drumroll, please: Carmelite nuns to hold first-ever public concert, live and ‘unplugged’ in Duarte

>>GO 
It wouldn’t be fair to compare “The Carmelite Sisters in Concert: Unplugged” to the movie “Sister Act” because Whoopi Goldberg and her merry band of nuns have nothing on this group of devoted Southland singers.
Members of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles — for whom music is intricately woven in their daily lives inside the convent — will perform for the public for the first time on Feb. 28 at the Madonna Hall Community Center in Duarte.
Performers will range from nuns who took their vows decades ago to novices and candidates still in the process of discerning a religious life. They come from the different Carmelite facilities in Southern California, including the Sacred Heart Retreat Center in Alhambra.
Some of the sisters double up as singers and musicians. They will play guitar, bass, flute, violin and drums to accompany some of the more lighthearted pieces, including “Prince of Peace,” which will start with a drum solo by one of the nuns.
“We hear each other every day, but coming together like this is just so beautiful,” said Sister Scholastica, the concert’s stage manager and the Alhambra group’s choir director.
Sister Scholastica described the concert line-up as a little mix of everything — including an original composition by one of the Carmelite nuns, hymns and Gregorian chants. The sisters’ first song will be the Solemn Salve, which they typically chant during morning prayers at the break of dawn.
“We feel that the world today needs God’s peace,” Sister Timothy Marie said. “This is our small way of bringing light in the darkness.”
$35 donation. Feb. 28, 7 p.m. Madonna Hall, 819 Buena Vista St., Duarte. 626-289-1353, ext. 246

Photo gallery: Lucent L’amour love fest in downtown L.A.


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>>PLAY 
The Do Lab does it again (and again and again): This Valentine’s weekend, the Shrine Expo Hall was playground to more than 100 carousing artists and legions of curious interlopers checking out a frenzied scene.
Music, art and a general explosion of Lucent L’Amour creativity made for a crazy all-night affair.
Photographer Watchara Phomicinda was there Saturday to catch the blessed insanity. Feel free to live (or re-live) vicariously through these images.

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Quite a sight: The Ohio State School for the Blind Marching Band

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>>PARADE

The marching band of the Ohio State School for the Blind will be welcomed to Pasadena during a special event tomorrow morning at Phoenix Decorating.

The band will be the first comprised entirely of blind musicians to march in the Rose Parade.

Their visit is timely: Jan. 1 also marks the 20th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act signing.

The marching band was formed in 2005, when the Ohio School for the Deaf wanted a band to play at their sporting events.

The band members memorize all their music; Some of the musicians with “perfect pitch” can identify five pitches played simultaneously on the piano.

Check out the band’s online journal and photo gallery chronicling their journey to Pasadena.

Some more facts from Pasadena Public Information Officer Ann Erdman:

  • Each band member is paired with a sighted volunteer assistant who serves as a guide by placing a hand on the musician’s shoulder. (For example, two hands on the left shoulder means turn left.)
  • Band members range in age from 13 to 18.
  • The band raised $115,000 to cover travel costs to Pasadena for 72 people – marchers, assistants and support staff.
  • The musicians practiced by marching in three community parades in Ohio and have conditioned for the 5.5-mile Rose Parade route by marching on their school’s track and throughout its campus every Tuesday and Thursday for four months.
  • The band will also perform at halftime during the Rose Bowl Game, during which they will spell out a message in Braille.
(Associated Press image: The marching band reacts to news they were chosen to participate in the Rose Parade.)